This year, business owners across multiple industries have had to learn some painful lessons.
More than half of the 132,580 businesses listed on Yelp reported being permanently closed due to COVID-19 in July 2020. Restaurants have taken the hardest hit, but retail businesses weren’t far behind. Those in the fitness and beauty space have also experienced high closure rates.
Since then, a growing number of businesses have reopened and are cautiously optimistic about the future while facing uncertain circumstances due to the pandemic.
Perhaps what 2020 has helped consumers and business owners alike recognize most clearly is the difference between an essential and non-essential business.
For those looking to get started in the retail franchise space and expand their multi-brand, multi-unit portfolio, essential businesses like Batteries Plus need to be at the top of the list of potential investment opportunities.
At the same time, it’s equally important to identify exactly what qualifies a brand as essential and how these types of businesses faired during the height of the pandemic while they were allowed to remain open.
A Retail Franchise that Provides Products and Services People Can’t Live Without
The list of unequivocally essential business concepts is limited. They provide services or products that consumers and business customers cannot conveniently get anywhere else and are necessary to effectively function.
For example, many Batteries Plus franchise owners have established business-to-business relationships with local municipalities, first responders and hospitals. These types of organizations depend on Batteries Plus as a reliable source for specialty batteries and generators to power everything from medical devices like infusion pumps, monitors, and carts on wheels to emergency equipment and transportation. Without a dependable retail partner for these types of products, entire communities would be put at risk.
Meanwhile, COVID-19 has pushed millions of workers into a remote work setting for the first time in their careers. A recent Stanford study found 42 percent of the U.S. labor force now working from home full-time . Rich Epps, a Florida-based multi-unit Batteries Plus franchisee, noticed a rapid uptick in customers coming in looking to repair old laptops or replace old laptop batteries so they could work from home.
Similarly, a huge number of students across the country are learning remotely or are in a hybrid classroom environment. Epps also saw a rise in demand for device repair for iPads and other tablets. Even when in-person classwork resumes, most students depend on technology in the classroom and at home. A 2019 global study found that 85 percent of students in the U.S. do their homework on a notebook computer .
These trends help illustrate just a couple of the reasons why a specialty retailer like Batteries Plus is an essential business that customers can’t live without.
A Retail Franchise the Can Compete with the Ecommerce Giants
Another aspect of a retail franchise opportunity that prospective franchisees should carefully consider is how a business competes online.
There has been a more than 100 percent increase in eCommerce purchases by people who previously hadn’t frequently shopped online. This is a trend that’s predicted to continue even after the pandemic abates. Retail franchises that don’t have a strong eCommerce presence with a reliable supply chain are already behind the curve. Yet, the pandemic has also put pressure on global supply chains and caused shipping delays, making an omnichannel strategy of paramount importance.
At Batteries Plus, we’ve built a robust supply chain and warehousing department for our franchise system. In addition to readily stocked in-store inventory, franchisees have access to 9,000 additional products through our warehouse, most of which can be delivered to stores in 1-2 days. This allows owners to offer fast, same-day solutions or rapid fulfillment.
It’s important to consider nearly every product Batteries Plus franchisees sell is an immediate need. When a key fob for a vehicle needs a battery replaced, the customer can’t wait a week for the product to be delivered. Or a person in need of a wheelchair battery replacement is going to be highly inconvenienced without a rapid solution.
Batteries Plus can compete against the likes of Amazon and other eCommerce retailers because franchisees and their employees are local problem solvers who can provide immediate help to in-store customers and online shoppers. In fact, we saw double-digit growth through our eCommerce channel throughout the pandemic, and July was our 8th best sales month in the history of the company.
And, ultimately, our device repair services is something that eCommerce retailers cannot replicate.
Explore Multi-Unit Franchise Opportunities with Batteries Plus
During COVID-19, Batteries Plus franchises were deemed essential and able to remain open, proving the importance of selling products with immediate needs.
Each of our core offerings is fundamental to people’s lives. This includes batteries for everything from wheelchairs and mobility scooters, to thermometers and flashlights, as well as lighting, cell phone repair and key fob replacement. Best of all, as a needs-based business, the products and services offered are largely insulated from fluctuating market trends.
As a result, we have seen a consistent increase in interest among franchise candidates, generating 12 new franchise agreements in 2020, and we’re on track to sign over 20 new franchise agreements by the of the year.
Learn more about multi-unit franchise opportunities with Batteries Plus by taking a look at our average unit volume, gross margins and available territories.